Students interested in postgraduate engineering studies may consider a Ph.D. or Eng.D. program. Ph.D., or doctor of philosophy, programs are more widely recognized and available than Eng.D. programs, which are only available in the United Kingdom. However, the Eng.D., or engineering doctorate, provides a more industrial-based focus to engineering research, which may be appealing to the more business-minded scholar.

Development of the Eng.D.

The Eng.D. was first established by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in 1992 as an alternative to engineering Ph.D. programs. The Eng.D. was designed to combine the academic research of a Ph.D. program with a hands-on approach to industry, business and management skills. Whereas engineering Ph.D. students divide their time between an academic thesis and a research project, students of the Eng.D. program, called research engineers, devote only 25 percent of their time to academic courses; most of their time is dedicated to research work for a sponsoring company. Their research is directly connected to improving this company, and it must display technical knowledge, creativity and marketability.

Educational Centers

Engineering Ph.D. programs are offered throughout the United States at some of the top engineering schools, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, University of California at Berkeley and the California Institute of Technology. The Eng.D. program is currently offered at 20 industrial doctorate centers in the United Kingdom, including the University College London and the University of Surrey. Both programs are competitive and rigorous, requiring students to contribute to the academic and technical knowledge of the university or sponsoring company.

Course Diversity

Engineering Ph.D.s tend to focus exclusively on the student’s area of engineering expertise, developed through the student’s thesis and research project. Required courses vary between programs but are predominately math and science based. In contrast, the Eng.D. requires research engineers to take Master of Business Administration-level courses in management, technical development and professional development, as well as courses in engineering research, to prepare them for careers in industry and management.

Potential Careers

Engineering Ph.D.s are ideal for students who would like to become academic researchers at a university or laboratory. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Defense and the Department of Transportation also employ highly qualified engineers with Ph.D.s. While people with engineering Ph.D.s may also find research positions in industry, those who know that they would like to pursue industrial engineering may find more benefit in an Eng.D., which includes business experience and professional development within the program.